Survey Says: Customer Choice on Invoicing Straining Efficiency

Dec. 19, 2007
Increasing e-invoicing is providing benefits but lack of automation and lingering demand for traditional formats is still sapping resources

Document process automation solutions provider Esker recently released results of a survey of over 150 North American billing and invoicing managers regarding customer invoicing practices and preferences. Results suggest that while many companies are reaping the efficiency benefits arising from electronic invoice formats and automation, 88% of respondents still saw room for improvement with manual processes surrounding invoices sent via physical mail.

Although 89% of respondents said they either maintained or increased the use of e-mail to send customer invoices over the last year; on average, 28% of customers refuse to accept invoices in any form besides postal mail. Even more surprisingly, organizations spent significantly more time on the invoice transmission process for postal mail, due in large part to a lack of automation of postal mail processes, despite the availability of solutions to accomplish this.

These facts are very similar to what has been discovered in the past by Esker. Results from a previous survey indicated that 81% of companies questioned said that mail is a critical delivery path for sending billing and invoicing documents to their customers. Of that group, more than half had not considered outsourcing this process.

According to the survey, respondents reported that on average, two to three employees spend 106 hours per month generating and sending physical mail with invoice-related correspondence, including reminders and re-sends. Of the time it takes to generate and send each invoice, only around 15% is spent on actual calculation of an invoice, with the remainder dedicated to printing, addressing, stuffing and mailing it, largely menial tasks. And while 92% reported that invoice calculation is automated (81% used SAP), one-third of organizations still manually add postage to their invoices and 82% are hand-stuffing them into envelopes using internal staff.

Other challenges identified by survey respondents dealing with manual mail processes include: the new United States Postal Service restrictions, machine maintenance, quality control and reporting and tracking delivery status. For more information, visit

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About the Author

Brad Kenney | Chief Marketing Officer

Brad Kenney is the former Technology Editor of IndustryWeek and now serves as director of the mobile/social platforms practice at R/GA, a global marketing/advertising firm in New York City.

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